Operation Stars & Stripes, Inc. is an all-volunteer 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting America’s military with requested care packages and letters. Our organization operates solely through donated items and monies. Your donations support our brave heroes who sacrifice their lives, so that we may live freely.
The organization was founded in May of 2001 in memory of Vietnam War hero, Major George Thompson. To date, over 100,000 packages have been sent to our deployed troops.
For every not-for-profit organization that is born, there is usually a very personal reason behind its inception. Operation Stars & Stripes, Inc. is no different. Rosalyn-Sue Smith, founder and Director, was in elementary school when America’s brave men and women deployed overseas in response to the Gulf War. Her family and entire school supported the troops by writing letters, baking cookies, and sending pictures of home. That was her first real experience with the true meaning of patriotism.
Her patriotism grew in a very personal way when her Godmother, Pat Rogers, gave her Vietnam War MIA bracelet to Rosalyn-Sue with the promise that she would never stop searching for Major George Thompson, the hero whose name was engraved on the bracelet but was still missing in action.
As she talked with various people during her search, Rosalyn-Sue’s patriotic awareness greatly increased. She knew that if for no other reason than to honor Major Thompson, she needed to become more involved. As the years went by, she joined several military support organizations: fundraising, recruiting, and eventually becoming a “Platoon Mom.”
An exciting thing happened in September, 2000: Rosalyn-Sue entered an online essay contest sponsored by the Department of Defense and Yahoo. She won the contest and was afforded the chance to spend a week with the Army and experience life as a soldier. She was given the opportunity to do everything from flying in an AH-64 Apache helicopter to freefalling with the Army’s elite parachute team, the Golden Knights.
There were two very important things Rosalyn-Sue took away from that experience: the human and personal side shared by the individual soldiers and knowledge that Major George Thompson’s fate had recently been discovered. Rosalyn-Sue attended a banquet where a colonel with the United States Army noticed her bracelet when shaking hands with her in a receiving line. He provided General David Petraeus with the papers to give to Rosalyn-Sue the following day. General Petraeus explained Major Thompson had been finally laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.
After coming home, Rosalyn-Sue continued her search for Major Thompson’s family, only to discover that his brother lived 30 minutes from her home in Marietta, Georgia. Major Thompson’s brother generously invited her into his home to share the life of the young man who had traded his tour stateside for a new father-to-be’s tour in Vietnam. She knew then that it was her duty to honor Major Thompson and every other courageous service member that has so selflessly sacrificed their life for our freedom.
Rosalyn-Sue then decided to found Operation Stars & Stripes, Inc. When she shared the idea with her mother, Rosalyn W. Smith and their friend, Elisabeth Romanik, they were just as passionate about the idea as she was. Each woman had a very personal connection to the military. Rosalyn W. Smith worked tirelessly during the Vietnam War Era on the amputee ward at the Veteran’s Administration hospital, caring for our heroes returning home. Elisabeth Romanik was rescued by the American military less than an hour before the city of Saigon fell at the end of the Vietnam War. The three women set out on a mission to let our military and their families know they care – a mission to let them know that America remembers and is thankful for their sacrifices.
They soon found many others who share their passion and volunteer in many ways to ensure the sacrifices our troops make on a daily basis to preserve our freedoms do not go unappreciated and are not forgotten.